By: Ilona de Zamaroczy, Research Associate at The Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Allow me to submit the following letter in response to your July 3 article, “World Cup provides place in the spotlight for the right reasons.”
While the article was perhaps written for the right reasons, it ultimately strikes an unfortunate tone. The article opens by lauding Costa Rica, “a tiny nation,” for its success in the football tournament, but goes on to question, “how many people had heard of Costa Rica before this World Cup?” (Many, to be clear.) While the article avowedly aims to highlight the power of the World Cup in propelling smaller nations from the football field onto the global stage, it mostly succeeds in belittling such nations.
Consider the eight remaining teams in what is shaping up to be a battle royale of Latin America versus Europe. Representing the former are Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, and Costa Rica, each among the continent’s leading countries on a number of economic, social, and political fronts. To suggest that these are “little known” or marginalized nations sounds patronizing at best. Similarly, on the European side, are several of the continent’s powerhouses, namely Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France. What might have been more interesting to ponder is why many poorer nations have missed out on the “spotlight” by not making it out of the group stage (e.g. Honduras and Bosnia and Herzegovina), or even qualifying for the World Cup at all. In these countries—where football culture certainly thrives—is this truly a matter of lack of talent or of weak capacity?
Perhaps a fair start would be to rid ourselves of a “first world” mentality, give each individual country its due respect… and enjoy what is shaping up to be some truly phenomenal football.
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